Paul McGinley believes Rory McIlroy’s recent return to winning ways was a timely boost for Europe heading into next week’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.
The former world No 1 recorded his first PGA Tour triumph of the season when he landed the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second event in the FedEx Cup Play-Offs, in Boston earlier this month.
McIlroy’s only other triumph so far in 2016 came in the Irish Open at The K Club in May, where he needed two wonder shots in the last three holes to finish ahead of Russell Knox and Bradley Dredge.
“Rory’s recent win at the Deutsche Bank Championship was very important for him,” McGinley, the winning captain at Gleneagles in 2014, told Sky Sports News HQ. “He is Europe’s highest-ranked player, and we all know how talented he is.
“Apart from winning the Irish Open he’s had a quiet year, particularly on the PGA Tour and in the major championships. But he addressed the problems he was having with his putting, hired a new coach and that was validated with his win in Boston. It has given him a lot of confidence, and I think we’ll see a buoyant and energised Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup.”
Darren Clarke’s team for next week’s match in Minnesota also includes current Open champion Henrik Stenson and McGinley said of the Swede: “He’s a very important player for Europe, he’s had a huge season and he’s also a major champion now. Henrik has had a few issues with injury and, having had eight operations on my knee, I know what it’s like for him. He apparently needs more minor surgery on his knee, but the problem can be managed for now.”
On the tournament front, Paul Doherty is the leading Scot, four shots behind England’s Lee Corfield, heading into the final round of the MENA Tour’s Golf Citizen Classic at The Els Club in Dubai. “My game feels good and a low one is close,” said Doherty, a former Scottish Boys champion, after carding a 71 for a three-under total. “But we all know how hard this game is, so I need to stay patient and wait for it to come.”
Elsewhere, European champions Scotland lost 6½-2½ to England on the opening day of the Senior Home Internationals at Machynys Peninsula.